Depakote blamed for birth defects in suit against Abbott Labs

Kelly Holleran Aug. 3, 2011, 3:36pm


The parents of two minor girls allege their daughters suffered birth defects after the mother ingested an anti-epileptic drug during her pregnancy.

Roger and Mindy Pyszkowski filed a lawsuit July 28 in Madison County Circuit Court against Abbott Laboratories.

The Pyszkowskis claim Mindy Pyszkowski took the anti-epileptic medication Depakote during her pregnancies with both girls. At the time, the couple did not realize the danger of the drug and its association with serious birth defects, such as spina bifida, cleft palate, cleft lip, limb and digital deformities, facial dysmorphism, mental developmental delays, genitourinary malformations and heart defects.

According to the complaint, researchers have discovered Depakote is riskier for pregnant women to take than other anti-seizure medication on the market. Although Abbott allegedly knew of the dangers pregnant women faced in taking the drug, the company failed to warn doctors or clients of the risks, the suit states.

"Even now, when medical science has proven beyond all doubt that one out of every eight or 10 babies whose mothers take Depakote during the first weeks of pregnancy will suffer some form of major congenital anomaly, Abbott refuses to state that risk on its product label, instead obliquely referring to a misleading statistic regarding a single specific defect," the complaint says.

Because of Mindy Pyszkowski's use of the medication, her daughters were born with spina bifida and neural tube defects, the suit states.

In their two-count complaint, the Pyszkowskis allege strict products liability and negligence against Abbott.

They seek actual damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, future economic damages and costs.

Christopher Cueto of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto in Belleville; Jeff Meyer of The Meyer Law Firm in Houston; Robert L. Salim of Natchitoches, Louisiana; Ralph D. McBride, Douglas A. Daniels and Kathleen B. Jennings of Bracewell and Giuliani in Houston; and Kenneth T. Fibich of Fibich, Hampton, Leebron, Briggs and Josephson in Houston will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-737.

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